Tuesday, September 4, 2012
All Things New by Lynn Austin
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.
Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival--and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine's mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak... but a bitter hatred fuels her.
With skill and emotion, Lynn Austin brings to life the difficult years of the Reconstruction era by interweaving the stories of three women--daughter, mother, and freed slave--in a riveting tale.
Josephine and her mother, Eugenia Weatherly, are in the city of Richmond at the home of Eugenia's sister. The Civil War rages on, Richmond is burning, and the Weatherly's fear for their lives. When word finally reaches them that the war is over they return to their plantation, the house in is a terrible state, all but a very few of their slaves have left. Josephine's father and brother were killed in the war and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home full of rage and bitterness.
Lizzie and her husband James remain at the plantation as servants and are given a share of the land to crop. Eugenia still treats them as slaves. Daniel's goal is to kill as many negroes as he and his group can. Josephine meets a Yankee who helps her to see slavery for what it is. The two fall in love but cannot reveal this for fear of losing his life.
The things Lizzie and Josephine go through are heartbreaking. It takes time for Josephine to gain the trust of Lizzie and James and even longer for Eugenia to change. Austin has written another wonderful book that brings tears and smiles at the same time. Loved this book! It gets 5 out of 5 stars!
I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.